BART plans to shut down Transbay Tube to replace aging tracks

Byby Sergio Quintana KGO logo
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
BART plans to shut down Transbay Tube to replace aging tracks
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Later this summer BART is planning to shut down the Transbay Tube to replace aging tracks.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Every day, about 400,000 commuters shuttle through the Transbay Tube on BART trains, but later this summer that critical link between San Francisco and Oakland will close down for a couple of weekends.

Service through the Transbay Tube has only shut down a few times in its entire lifespan: once because of a fire in the tube, after the Loma Prieta Earthquake, and a few times due to transit worker strikes. This upcoming shutdown will to be replace rails that have been in service since the tube opened back in 1974.

For two weekends, traffic heading through the BART Transbay Tube will come to a halt. So transit agencies around the Bay Area are starting to prepare.

"I think in a nutshell, there's no good time to shut down BART service in the Transbay Tube, but they picked the least bad times," John Goodwin from the Metro Transportation Commission said.

According to a BART spokesperson, the details of the shutdown are not finalized. However, there is a plan to establish a transbay bus bridge to connect West Oakland to San Francisco. And a San Francisco ferry spokesperson told ABC7 News they are also figuring out how they will have to adjust service.

Labor Day Weekend and an additional weekend in August are the proposed dates for the shutdown because both are weekends that have historically low commute traffic. For some commuters, it will be a challenge.

"It will be inconvenient, just like the bridge closures are inconvenient. The San Mateo Bridge had been closed down two weekends, I guess. Recently, it caused a lot of congestion," BART Customer Gayle Caplan said.

This is all part of an ongoing multi-million-dollar maintenance program. The crossover tracks between the West Oakland BART station and the Transbay Tube are more than 40 years old and need to be replaced.

The last time BART service through the tube stopped was in 2013 during the transit workers strike. That conjured up sour memories for commuters.

"I had to ride a bus, took an hour and 30 minutes. The lines were long and it was just ridiculous," BART rider Jamisha Jefferson said.

"It was a nightmare. Absolute nightmare. I had to ride my motorcycle then too. But there's no forewarning for that so, what do you do?" BART commuter Chris Vargas said.

But there is plenty of early warning for the coming shutdown. BART will hold a news conference Wednesday with final details and alternative public transit routes.